Erin's Everyday Thoughts

Monday, May 14, 2007

News Game

Sometimes when I'm listening to the news (generally in my car, generally NPR), I'll play a game (purposely or accidentally) where I imagine the newscaster is going to say something that would make the story much more interesting or shocking or offensive.

A few days ago, I was only half listening when I heard the newscaster say, "Women are more important in Sudan today than ..."

Immediately, my mind imagined she was going to say "men."

Instead, she said "ever before." So, "Women are more important in Sudan today than ever before."

I thought of other funny things she could have said, too--like "hotdogs" or "willyworms."

The next time you're listening to the news, think about what the newscaster could have said! If you have a funny or interesting one, I'd love to hear it!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Best Part of My Yesterday

Yesterday was in many regards a dreary day. It was beautiful outside, and I was stuck inside for work. I was stuck inside for work, but I had little to no meaningful work to accomplish. Really, it was just one of those days--it was no good to try to sit still, but I had to.

After work, I drove up to Lebanon, Ohio, to visit a bike trail that I'd visited for the first time this past Sunday. On Sunday, I rode a portion of the trail with Mike. It was a lovely ride (it's always fun to bike with Mike), but a bit chilly, with the wind whipping about and eventually giving me a headache. The most frustrating part of the trip on Sunday was a large hill that I could not handle. I had to get off of my bike and walk it up the hill, which always frustrates me.

Yesterday, I returned to the trail to try to ride the portion of the trail we had not explored (having a bit more energy and definitely a better riding temperature). I set out in the direction opposite to what we had gone, which also included an incline that I was able to handle. It was a Perfect Day to ride. The sun was shining, but not too brightly (hurting my eyes) or too warmly (making me hot). The wind was blowing, but it was a Spring breeze. It felt cool and easy on my arms, chest, legs. The trail was all but empty, so I didn't have to worry about sticking to my side of it or having my thoughts punctuated by the "hello" of a passerby. (I like hellos, certainly, but there are times when you just want to BE in nature and not be disturbed.)

I was feeling so good that I decided to re-try the portion of the trail that I'd rode on Sunday. I winded up and down and around, and I finally reached the Big Incline. My bike has 21 gears, and I usually ride somewhere in the middle. For this hill, I dropped all of the way to the lowest gear and pedaled with all of my might. When you drop into low gear, it is easier to pedal the bike, but you do not gain much distance with each stroke. So I was basically crawling up the hill. I started to breath heavily and almost, ALMOST decided to walk it again. But then I noticed a leaf on the side of the trail up ahead and thought to myself--I'm just going to ride to that leaf, and then I'll walk it. When I got to the leaf, I saw a sign post ahead. I thought--OK, I can certainly make it to the sign post, and then I'll walk. Doing this, I got all of the way up the hill. When I reached the top, because the exuberance was more than I could bear, and because the trail was more or less empty, I smiled the biggest smile and wiggled out a victory dance on my bike. This was the best part of my yesterday. And the rest of the ride through the hills and beautiful sunshine was just gravy.

Friday, May 11, 2007

An Unusual Occurrence

Phoebe the dog rarely barks. It happens so seldom, in fact, that when she does bark, it seems a momentous occasion. You know there must be a real reason. Usually the reason is 1) she really really really has to pee or 2) she has noticed an unusual occurrence, something that she feels is not quite right, and she wants you to know about it. A few weeks ago, I was sitting on my enclosed back porch after dark, laptop in lap, writing. Phoebe was keeping me company, lounging on the floor beside my feet. Suddenly, a car pulled into my neighbor’s driveway. Phoebe stood up abruptly and barked into the darkness toward my neighbor’s house. The car that had entered the driveway must have belonged to a guest, because I did not recognize it (and obviously Phoebe didn’t either!). I think the new car, combined with the darkness of the evening, and the fact that she is rarely on the porch after dark all added up to equal an Unusual Occurrence in Phoebe’s mind, and therefore warranted a bark. And I mean "a" bark quite literally--she's generally not one to be repetitive. A solid "woof" (or two, tops) will generally do the trick.

The sound that Phoebe does make often is a sort of high-pitched whine. She does this in the morning when she hears us stir and knows we’ll be down soon to take her on a walk. She does this when a visitor stands at the door waiting for it to be opened. She does this when we’re putting on shoes, getting ready to take her outside and taking, obviously, FAR TOO long. And she also makes variations of this sound during her regular dog activities—like yawning. Sometimes the whine turns into a frustrated “aroo” sound. (So difficult to describe these sounds in writing! I should try to get some video of her actually making them!)

More often than not, though, Phoebe is silent. On a walk, we can pass ten fenced dogs all making a ruckus barking at her, and she sniffs at them but goes silently by. I think this is what makes her bark so interesting. She goes from silence and high whining to a startlingly deep and full “woof”. She is a largish dog (around 50 pounds), so it makes sense that her bark would be what it is. But in between barking instances, I forget.

The one notable exception to Phoebe’s history of barking silence was a several week period just after Christmas when she decided that barking at 4:30 AM was just the thing to do to get us to come down earlier to play with her. It still was not an insistent yap-yap-yap barking. It was just the early morning hour punctuated with a “woof”. And then five or ten minutes later another “woof”. It was enough to wake me, but barely. Sometimes I’d feel that I’d imagined it. We were able to correct this behavior, thankfully.

My brother (who owns Phoebe) has been out of town for the better part of the week, so I’ve gotten to spend much quality time with the ol’ gal. We learn from each other daily.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Routine

Each week, I make a day-to-day list of what I’d like to accomplish. Exercise, writing, cleaning, social activities, even silly little things like wearing my retainer—I lay it all out in black & white, print off the list, stick it in the front of my planner so I won’t forget the overall goals, or the small things that can get lost in the shuffle. This is a relatively new technique for me—I’ve only been making these lists for the past few months. I started the list because I found that time was slipping away from me a lot. Days and even weeks would pass, and I wouldn’t know where the time had gone. I would feel as thought I had accomplished next to nothing. I greatly dislike this feeling.

I like the weekly list technique for these reasons:

1) If I have scheduled and planned for time to do things to achieve ultimate goals—i.e. writing—I am less likely to go a few weeks without taking small steps toward these bigger goals. It keeps these things foremost in my mind.

2) When I cross things off at the end of the day, I feel a sense of accomplishment. Even if the list item was something simple like “take a walk”, knowing that this was a goal I had set for myself, and I accomplished this goal, is a good feeling.

3) As I mentioned, I am able to keep myself on track with the small things that I may otherwise let slide.

4) I like to make lists.

I dislike the technique for these reasons:

1) Sometimes it begins to feel that my day-to-day activities are just too structured.

2) If I have a day when what I really mentally and physically need is just to sit on the couch and watch a movie or read, and I do not “accomplish” the items on my list, I feel disappointed in myself. Even if I know what replaced the list items was better for me, there is still the un-marked-off-list to contend with at the end of the day.

3) There is less time for dreaming when you’re marking items off of a list. (Similar to reason #1.)

Lately, I’ve begun to cut back on the list items, putting only the essentials, the biggest and most important things I’d like to accomplish. I think this is a move in the right direction, and I’ll continue to cut down on the list, hopefully to the point where the remaining items are so much a part of my routine that I no longer feel that I need the list.

It just occurred to me that I made two lists within an entry talking about making a list. It’s possible, just possible, that I have a problem. :-)